How are members of the European Parliament elected?
European elections are held every five years. The next elections will take place 23-26 May 2019. The last elections took place from 22-25 May 2014.
Each member state has a fixed number of members of the European Parliament (MEPs); from six for Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Estonia to 96 for Germany, making a total of 751. With the departure of the 73 British members, the MEPs and Council agree to see a reduction in the size of the EP from 751 to 705 seats as of the 2019 elections. This reduction would leave room for possible future enlargements of the Union.
The allocation of seats is laid down in the European Union treaties. The countries with larger populations have more seats than those with smaller ones, but the latter have more seats than strict proportionality would imply. This system is known as the “degressive proportionality” principle.
Elections to the European Parliament are largely governed by national electoral laws and traditions, but there are also common EU rules. In 2015, MEPs initiated a reform of the EU rules, aiming at reducing the current inequalities between citizens of different EU countries and making the whole system more transparent. The procedure with the Council should be finalised in time for the 2019 elections.